From her time as a member of the First Tee of Fort Worth, a vibrant youth development organization reaching young people on golf courses, to the first signee of women’s golf at Texas Wesleyan, Jessica Liptak, freshman mass communication major, has started the semester with a new beginning.
In early December of last year, the athletic department announced its expansion to include women’s golf beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.
Kevin Millikan, assistant athletic director, is currently in his 16th year of service at Wesleyan and is now heading the new women’s golf program. Millikan previously served 10 seasons as head men’s golf coach, and seven seasons as athletic director. He also currently serves the department as director of new sport development.
“When we had decided to start the women’s golf program, I immediately started to find kids from our area and all over to start the team,” Millikan said. “Jessica’s name was one of the first that came out to me because of her long-time participation with the First Tee of Fort Worth.”
Liptak said she learned how to play golf through the First Tee of Fort Worth and has been playing the game for about 10 years now.
“When I was younger, I just did it for fun and didn’t practice outside of class, but once I reached high school, I really tried to improve my skills and be competitive,” Liptak said. “The staff of the First Tee of Fort Worth was always encouraging and wanted the best for me, and gave me the opportunity to go to four national academies throughout high school.”
Liptak has been a member of the First Tee of Fort Worth Junior Advisory Committee since 2009 and a member of the Program Committee since 2010.
“They teach you the game of golf, and specifically life lessons on how to be a good citizen,” Liptak said.
Millikan said when he talked to Kevin Long, director of the First Tee of Fort Worth, Long praised Liptak on her work for the organization for eight years, and the rest was history.
“Jessica was an amazing student and participant in the First Tee,” Long said. “Liptak was a bright student who worked very hard and was certainly popular and well respected amongst her peers.”
Long said Liptak’s interest in golf has grown since she started at the First Tee of Fort Worth. He said her family was not a golf family, but since she was a part of the organization, that allowed her to grow up in golf.
Liptak said she loves playing golf for many reasons.
“I love that it is an individual sport, and I get the chance to be outside and play in courses all over the country,” Liptak said.
“Golf is also useful because it is a sport you will use your whole life. It is also extremely challenging mentally. How you handle yourself on the golf course is a reflection of how you handle yourself in your everyday life.”
This season, Liptak notched a fourth place finish among 135 golfers in the North Texas Junior Professional Golfers’ Association Tournament, NTJPGA. Last season she was selected to attend the First Tee Hank Haney International Junior Golf Association, IJGA.
According to their website,www.thefirsttee.org, each year the First Tee selects approximately 50 participants to attend the academy in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina to receive instruction on all aspects of the golf game from IJGA instructors.
Millikan said it is an honor to recognize Liptak as the first member of the Texas Wesleyan women’s golf team.
“Not only is she an extremely talented player, but her involvement in the community and in the advancement of junior golf makes her the perfect example of the kind of young ladies we want leading our new program,” Millikan said.
Liptak said she loves her teammates and can’t wait for the Spring tournament season.
“It has been great getting to know all of my teammates over the last couple months,” Liptak said.
“We all are very different and bring different strengths and skills to the team.”
Liptak and the women’s golf team will swing into season again on Feb. 18, 2013. They will play in the Claud Jacobs Collegiate tournament.